you're not alone
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
There is still time to get something sweet for the holidays, or if you are like me, whenever the need arises. So I've put together a list of bakeries and pastry shops that are located west of that food city called Portland, Oregon. First up is a bakery I've enjoyed this year, Decadent Creations.
It's been fun trying a number of different cookies and sweets from Decadent Creations. Both the salted chocolate chip cookies and salty dog brownies are favorites. They are also known for creating beautiful and fun cakes. I definitely recommend the macarons too. Carmel corn, pumpkin spice and pecan pie were around for November and December flavors include peppermint, gingerbread and my favorite cranberry orange which is great with a cup of tea. In warmer weather Decadent Creations can be found at many of the local farmers markets. With the colder weather Mindy Simmons has opened up her kitchen on Fridays for pick-ups and purchases. Hopefully it won't be too long before their shop in Hillsboro will open in 2016. Information about ordering and their open kitchen can be found at their website: http://www.decadentcreations.com/
While Farina Bakery is actually located in SE Portland, we are lucky that the Beaverton Town Square Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe carries their delicious pastries and cookies. I'm a dedicated macaron fan of theirs and always checking out the latest flavors like candy cane, gingerbread and Mexican hot chocolate which had a bit of spice to it! While they don't stock a lot of product there are always some cookies, brownies or other treats there. Farina Bakery's website is http://farinabakery.com/ and the address for the Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe is 11705 Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy, Beaverton, OR 97005.
A new bakery in the area isn't that new. Grand Central Bakery has opened a shop and it's very popular. While their focus is bread and offering soup, salads and sandwiches in the shop, they do have pie, muffins and cookies like peppermint crunch shortbread, fig rugelach, and cocoa nib shortbread. Grand Central Bakery's website is http://grandcentralbakery.com/ and the new bakery is located at 12595 NW Cornell Road, Portland, OR 97229, just north of Beaverton.
I keep forgetting there is another good place to get macarons in the area. La Provence Boulangerie & Patisserie at Progress Ridge. While it's a busy restaurant there they also sell their pastries to walk in customers. I've enjoyed their macarons which included these chocolate covered ones I found at Petite Provence at PDX Airport. La Provence Boulangerie & Patisserie website is http://provencepdx.com/ and the Progress Ridge address is 15151 SW Barrows Rd, #153, Beaverton, OR 97007.
If you are at the far west side of Washington County you are in luck because Sugar Momma's Bake Shop is there. Known for amazing custom cakes and more, there is always something delicious to be found there. I really enjoyed this boston cream cupcake and other goodies they make. Not only that but you can get hearty breakfasts there. Sugar Momma's Bake Shop website is http://sugarmommasbakeshop.com/ and they are located at 1714 Pacific Ave, Forest Grove, OR 97116.
Of course there is the bakery with a 90 year history. Beaverton Bakery is well known for their cakes, cookies and more. I've enjoyed a few treats from there including this berry tart. They have baked up a lot of holiday cookies, fruit cakes and more for the holidays. Beaverton Bakery's website is http://beavertonbakery.com/ and they are located at 12375 SW Broadway Beaverton, OR 97005.
If you are looking for something different, here are three other popular places to buy pastries and more.
The Dessert Tray, http://www.thedesserttray.com/default.html, has traditional along with some vegan pastries and desserts. They are a smaller shop that has some items available at their counter and more for ordering. They are located at 11950 SW Broadway St. Beaverton, OR 97005.
Karam Lebanese Deli not only has Middle Eastern food but also sweets and pastries like baklava along with more traditional desserts. I've enjoyed a few of their offerings. Their website is http://lebanesedelikaram.com/ and they are located at 2800 Southwest Cedar Hills Boulevard, Beaverton, OR 97005.
This last place I have not visited but it's very popular. La Espiga Dorada is known as the place to get Mexican pastries. I could not find a website but they are located at 18350 SW Tualatin Valley Hwy, Beaverton, OR 97006.
I know there are more out there. If you have any recommendations of places to be added please feel free to comment.
Monday, December 21, 2015
I wasn't expecting there would be a second part to my Holiday Tea Tasting at Steven Smith Teamkers blog post but when they announced tastings for the new Maker's Series tea created by Chef Gregory Gourdet along with their seasonal Irish Moringa Latte I had to go. Not only that but the tastings were offered in their Northwest Portland location and the new Southeast building which is pictured above.
The space inside is really nice. Larger than the Northwest tasting room it still offers places to sit that are out of way along with seats by a fireplace. Definitely a pleasant way to unwind with a cup.
They have many of their teas for sale including limited ones.
Along with tea pots, cups and growlettes.
At the other end of the space is this room where you can see tea makers creating and tasting teas.
Lots of space in between with a long counter which faces the packaging room. I'm sure it's fun to watch when they are in full swing. Amusing too they note the traffic conditions in Darjeeling.
I love seeing what goes into each tea along with smelling them so had to snap a shot of this display on their counter. The counter is a really nice addition. It gives lots of room for tasting events and gives you the chance to experience the tea making process with the packing room and watching the tea makers brew up your tea or latte.
On to the teas that were sampled. First was a cup of Chef Gourdet's Phuket Fire. I like that they displayed all the ingredients in this one. Very colorful! The taste of the tea was also as complex. It started with citrus which makes sense since there is lime infused pineapple and kefir lime leaves in this. Under this was a bit of chili and ginger. I could feel the heat from this in the back of my mouth but it was not overwhelming. Finally there was the flavor of hibiscus which you can tell by the color of the brewed tea. It made me think of teas that are enjoyed in Southeast Asia. Since there are no tea leaves in this it's caffeine free. I think people who love spicy food would really enjoy this tea. It's definitely in the style of Chef Gourdet's food, surprising and complex. Nicely done.
The second tea for the tasting was their Irish Moringa Latte. Amazing to smell this since it's placed in a whiskey barrel when it's made and then rolled around to mix the tea leaves without crushing them. Lovely rich scent with the whiskey present in a good way.
And here's where the counter is great. Not just because large groups can try tea there (along with a long table also in the room) but because you can watch and learn how they put together what you will be drinking. Also good for asking questions like if other milks could be used for this latte. I learned that since they fire the sugar on top only whole milk works since others break down.
Next came the brown sugar sprinkled on top. It was great how the really nice employees explained each step.
Last step was firing up the tops of the lattes.
I hope you can see in the photo the bubbles forming as each latte is torched. I should have made a video of this. Next time.
And even though I'm lactose intolerant I still tried this lovely concoction. Really delicious latte with delicate flavors that accent the creaminess of this drink. Even though the tea looked very dark it is caffeine free. They use Moringa leaf which is considered herbal. Along with that is orange peel, sarsaparilla, vanilla bean and star anise. Not only do they sell the tea but they also are serving this latte for a limited time at both tasting rooms. If you like lattes this is worth stopping in for.
There are two other limited seasonal black box loose leaf teas. I did not get to try them but I was able to sniff the tea leaf mix. The Mulled Black is everything you would expect from a mulled tea with cranberries and hazelnuts. This was made in an aquavit barrel. The third tea is their White Chrysmas tea. The smell was enchanting and I am still thinking of it. Definitely delicate. This is a blend of white tea leaves from Yunnan placed in a rum barrel and then afterwards mixed with chrysanthemum petals. Along with the Moringa and Phuket Fire these are available on the Smith Teamaker website for a short time and at the tasting rooms.
So my impression of the new space is very good. It's a nicely designed space with lots of room for larger parties yet also has seating that feels more intimate. They have many teas for tastings, enjoying a cup or even getting some to go. They also serve lattes including the ones I mentioned in my last tasting post. Here's Smith Teamaker's website where you can find information about the tasting rooms, check out their teas and learn more.
The new Steven Smith Teamaker Tasting Room is located at 110 SE Washington St., Portland, Oregon. You can park in the "Loading" spots in front of the building.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
I've stopped in at Smith Teamaker North West Portland tasting room a few times in the past. Here is my post about enjoying a tea flight there. So when they announced in November they would be having a tasting of a couple of their Holiday Season teas I jumped at the chance to go.
They were brewing up four different teas that day. The first was one of two holiday teas, Morning Light. It's a black tea combination of Ceylons and North Indian Assam. What makes this stand out is a tiny bit of Northwest Douglas Fir needles. Trust me, this doesn't taste like you are drinking a tree. It's a lovely black tea with a hint of resin that reminded me of rosemary. Douglas Fir needles are actually good for you and it's fun to see them used in cooking and in this tea.
They were also serving up tastings of two lattes which are being sold as gift sets. The first we tasted was their Bungalow Darjeeling tea mixed with Recchiuti Burnt Caramel Sauce. Really unique and enjoyable way of sweetening tea.
We were also given recipe cards because the BF bought a set to take home. He really likes lattes and chai tea and totally enjoyed Smith Teamaker's take on this.
Next up was the reason I went to this tasting. Silent Night. This is the second of the Holiday Teas and not only are the sachets of Silent Night really pretty but they smell wonderful! Now Smith Teamaker sells peppermint tea year round but this version adds cinnamon, ginger and sweet licorice. I ended up getting two cans for myself since besides the great taste I know peppermint and the other ingredients are helpful with digestion. I'd love it if this tea was available all year long.
The last tea we tasted was their Chocolate Peppermint latte. This is their Peppermint Leaves tea mixed with Recchiuti Extra-Bitter Chocolate Sauce which reminded me of a peppermint patty in a glass. I enjoyed it. Sadly they do not sell the sauce separately because I wanted to try this with Silent Night and soy or almond milk. I like their Peppermint Leaves teas but I love the Silent Night more so I did not get this set.
Following up their Russian Caravan tea set with these two latte packs is a really neat idea. I enjoyed the tasting event and look forward to more now that they have their second tasting room open at 110 SE Washington Street in Portland, Oregon. And if any of these teas peak your curiosity, they can be found on the Smith Teamaker website here. There are other special teas for the holidays and also their regular teas. I have ordered a few boxes through the mail also and found their shipping times and prices for that are really good.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
I realize in Portland Oregon it's really hard to find the right present. There are so many places with so many cool things. A lot of "Made in Oregon" and "Made in Portland". People who are very crafty and creative offering great items.
I have found a really neat place to buy Japan related items. It's only there for a short while.
It's called Omiyage which is the Japanese word for a gift one shares with others.
Located at 341 NW 5th Avenue in Portland it is a pop-up shop run by the Oregon Nikkei Endowment. Where they offer for sale vintage Japanese items along with current Japanese art work and crafts from people in the Portland area.
They even have a few treats from Uwajimaya available.
I really enjoyed my visit here and need to go back again before their last day on December 24th.
I picked up a few lovely glass chopstick rests created by Kurumi Conley to go with her glass bowls that I have. I see a trend starting with me.
Along with this haori made with vintage silk from Kyoto. I've always wanted something like this. I wish the photo was better but heck, we have a little rain here in Oregon. I am looking forward to wearing this.
So if you are looking for something interesting for yourself or your local Japanophile, get thee to Omiyage at 341 NW 5th Avenue, Portland. They are open Wednesday-Friday, 11am-6pm; Saturday-Sunday, Noon-5pm through December 24th and then no more.
There are other Portland Pop-Up shops happening for the holidays which are worth checking out for yourself or that special present. Here the link for more information PDX Pop-up Shops.
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
A visitor from out of town and another star Chefwich happening at Lardo? Of course it had to be checked out. This time it was the guys of the premier Portland dining experience Holdfast putting their spin on a sandwich for charity.
This was my first time at Portland East Lardo on a Saturday night. First time for my favorite dining companion. Crowded and noisy but worth it. I went with the Lardo brew and the bf drank Crater Lake Root Beer for the first time. He's a root beer fan so I was curious as to what he thought of it. He really liked it.
I had hoped to try their Vegetarian Meatball Sub but they were out. Instead I opted for the Italian Tuna Melt.
Which was a delicious and different take on tuna melts. With the capers, olive tapenade and fennel it had a very Mediterranean taste which we enjoyed. I really liked the Phillipe's bread they use. Great texture for this sandwich and fresh. Glad my second choice was so good.
I insisted the bf order the Chefwich. He added on a side of Lardo Parmesan and herb fries which he loved. As for that sandwich...
He loved it too. Swiss cheese melting all over that maple glazed pork coppa was a great pairing. We could definitely taste the maple glaze but it didn't overwhelm the pork or the other ingredients.
Oh that cheese! There was brown butter cabbage along with a fried egg sauce and their red eye gravy also on the sandwich but it was the cheese and pork that stood out.
If you like pork I definitely recommend checking out this high quality sandwich. It's still available at Lardo for a few more days. Lardo has three locations which are on their website here.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
It might be too late for you get a delicious Pumpkin Truffle from Moonstruck Chocolate
There's still time for pie! Like this Pecan Pie Chocolate Truffle filled with pecans with brown sugar and a hint of Jim Beam liquor layered with light vanilla cream and topped with chocolate chips. Definitely has that syrupy nut flavor that makes pecan pie so good.
Or a Pumpkin Pie Chocolate Truffle that isn't overwhelmingly pumpkin spiced but just right with a hint of cinnamon.
Don't ask me which pie truffle is best because I liked both of them equally. Of course if pie isn't your thing there is always this turkey available at the Moonstruck Chocolate Cafes. Delicious chocolate on the outside with cranberry ganache inside. Yes I gobbled him up.
Friday, November 6, 2015
My plan had been to post about this a bit ago. But after reading Karen Brook's marvelous review of Mae's pop-up at the SE Hawthorne Lardo, I decided best to wait. So now I will explain why people were willing to stand in a long line for Mae's fried chicken and Appalachian cuisine. Good thing the weather was kind.
The wait wasn't due to lack of hustling on part of Mae's chefs. Off to the side Zach Lefler was handling chicken frying duties and plating up lots of golden pieces of bird.
While the heart of Mae's, Maya Lovelace, was meeting all the diners and taking orders. Mae is her creation, a pop-up family style dinner that is an ode to her Grandmother. They normally take place at Old Salt restaurant. I've wanted to attend but something always was going on. Lucky us that Maya decided to make use of Lardo's truck and share some of the dishes from her dinners.
So it was a no brainer to drive across town for this chance to taste what others have been raving about. What I really liked about this is we were able to decide how much food we wanted to try. As much as I love course dinners, sometimes the amount of food offered is more than I can handle in one sitting. Having this a la carte at Lardo was perfect. I wish more chefs who do set menus would take advantage of this. Not only is it great for customers but it also is great advertising for their dinners.
I was lucky that some really great people were also attending so I was able to share food and great conversation with them along with food photo ops. Like these plates of fried chicken, sea island red peas, angel biscuits with ham, pimento cheese baked grits, bacon fried cabbage with pickled mustard seed vinaigrette, and braised kale with country ham and vinegar.
Along with these green garlic deviled eggs. I did get my own but it wasn't plated at pretty as these were. I enjoyed the taste of it especially since it was different from what I am use to. Along with the the rest of the meal, I was enjoying food that I had not had in a long time. The slow-cooked sea island red peas with T & T salt pork and sorghum was really good with a nice balance of seasoning. I've never had grits before but Mae's were really tasty.
I'm glad I was able to taste everything on the menu so I can say there wasn't a bad dish in the bunch. As for what I ordered, there was a bowl of Mae's house pickles consisting of ramps, zucchini, okra, green beans, and carrots. I made the mistake of biting into something hot and spicy right off the bat. However most of the pickles were not that and I really enjoyed the zucchini which was crisp and fresh.
I went for the dark meat chicken with three sides. The pickles were one side and the other two were fried green tomatoes and an angel biscuit. The fried green tomatoes came with buttermilk ramp ranch dressing and this was so good I also dipped a bit of my chicken in it. I think the coating on the tomatoes was corn meal. They were nicely crisp on the outside and tender but not soggy inside. I could go for more of these right now.
The Mae main attraction though is the buttermilk brined fried chicken. Fried in three fats and so flavorful! I think the brining helped keep moisture in the meat which made it tender and not dry. I was able to taste both white and dark meat and both were delicious. However my favorite part of the meal was the angel biscuit. They were served with sorghum butter and a decent slice of salty ham from Benton's which was aged 16 months. Even without the extras these are excellent biscuits. Light and soft even after getting cold. I wish I had picked up some to go.
So there you have it, my unbiased opinion on a delicious Portland picnic of Mae's food at the Lardo sandwich shop. Sadly that was a one time thing however Maya and Zach continue their dinners at Old Salt restaurant in Portland, Oregon. If you want to experience this ode to Southern cooking you can sign up for their mailing list at their website and receive emails when they are taking reservations for their dinners. The Mae website is here.
Along with that, if you are ready to start holiday feasting, Mae has teamed up with Portland Food Adventures and offering a special holiday dinner on December 9th. Not only will there be food but also drink pairings by the well versed Paul Willenberg, Nodoguro's Beverage Manager. I am sure they will be good since he has a lot of experience enjoying Mae's food. If that sounds like fun to you then hurry to their site since they are sure to sell out all their seats. The tickets and more information about this dinner are on the Portland Food Adventures site here.